Movie Review: The Beautiful and the Not-So-Beautiful Sides of 200 Pounds Beauty (2006)

Let’s face it. We all live in a society where good looks are an advantage, resulting to the current popularity of plastic surgery and other procedures among people who want to improve their physical appearance. This new norm of plastic beauty is a strong proof that the world is becoming more and more superficial. Our latest K-Movie Corner feature, 200 Pounds Beauty, is a film that deals with this issue, and I’m sure that most of you have already watched it.

[SPOILER ALERT!]

200 Pounds Beauty is a 2006 romantic comedy movie directed by PD Kim Yong-hwa, and starring Kim Ah-joong and Joo Jin-moo. It tells the story of an overweight ghost singer and phone sex part-timer, who undergoes intensive plastic surgery from head to toe to make the man she loves reciprocate her feelings. Interesting, right? But in actuality, incorporating the topic of plastic surgery in Korean shows is not very new as several K-Dramas have already used it as part of its plot (e.g. Birth of a Beauty, Incarnation of Money, and Master’s Sun). Sometimes, you can even hear K-Drama characters talking about their freshly done double-eyelid surgery as if it’s only as natural as getting flu vaccine shots. This is not surprising at all as plastic surgery is not a taboo thing in South Korea, which is being considered as the plastic surgery capital of the world. (Read: The World Capital of Plastic Surgery)

Fun fact: 200 Pounds Beauty is based on the Japanese manga Kanna’s Big Success! (Kanna-san Daiseikou Desu!) by Yumiko Suzuki.

Joo Jin-moo and Kim Ah-joong in character as Han Sang-jun and Kang Han-na, respectively, in the movie 200 Pounds Beauty

The movie is the third bestselling film of 2006 in South Korea with over 6.6 million ticket sales or equivalent to over $42 million. Aside from being a commercial success, it also bagged several awards and nominations particularly for Kim Ah-joong. She won the Best Actress trophies at the 2007 Grand Bell Awards, 2007 Chunsa Film Art Awards, and 2007 Korean Movie Star Awards. She also got nominations from the 2007 Blue Dragon Awards and 2007 Korean Film Awards. I believe that she’s deserving of all these citations given her lovable and emotional portrayal of the titular role. She totally rocked as either the overweight Kang Han-na or the goddess Jenny though I have to point out that the fat suit she wore while portraying the former didn’t look real.

Kim Ah-joong in character as Jenny in the movie 200 Pounds Beauty

Fun fact: Kim Ah-joong did all the singing in the movie herself, proving that she isn’t only a good actress but also a good singer. The scenes where she sang Star and the Korean version of the Blondie song Maria are actually my favorite ones. Aside from these two songs, Kim Ah-joong also contributed Beautiful Girl to the film’s official soundtrack.

On the other hand, Joo Jin-moo’s portrayal of music producer Han Sang-jun, with whom Kang Han-na has unrequited love, is also good, but I’d like to give more focus on him being an absolute eye candy during the entire movie. Gosh, he’s hot!

Joo Jin-moo in character as Han Sang-jun in the movie 200 Pounds Beauty

Overall, I enjoyed watching 200 Pounds Beauty as it is lighthearted and witty, but will also make you burst into tears. But something hit me hard after seeing Kang Han-na’s best friend asking the same surgeon to also give her a head-to-toe plastic surgery during the closing credits. Same with Kang Han-na achieving success as a singer and Han Sang-jun developing feelings for her both after her physical transformation. It’s like the movie is telling us that we have to change ourselves for the society and the people we love to accept and love us back. Do we really have to?

Final verdict: Without putting into consideration the message about physical beauty that it seemingly conveys, 200 Pounds Beauty is definitely a leader in the Korean romcom film genre. 4/5

~All the credit for the videos and stills used in this movie review goes to Showbox.

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